I’ve dealt with mental illness, specifically schizoaffective disorder, for the last 35 years but for the most part I only talk about it with my husband and daughter. I find it makes other people uncomfortable when I bring it up and I also feel judged unfairly once people know I have a mental illness.
I definitely think mental illness needs to be talked about, but yesterday I was caught off guard with a question from my daughters orthodontist. He had asked what nationality I was and I told him I just recently found out as I was adopted and recently found my birth mother. He asked me why my mom gave me up for adoption. I hesitated for a minute then replied, “My mom had a mental illness, schizophrenia, and she couldn’t take care of me, she passed mental illness on to me as well.”
Saying that made me feel so embarrassed and ashamed and I hate that I had those feelings, I shouldn’t have those feelings. Intellectually I know I had no control on whether or not I got schizoaffective disorder, and I know I’m not the stereotypical “insane” person the media and news outlets portray us as. I also know I’m a kind, loving and generous person and am so much more than my diagnosis.
Then why did I feel such shame and embarrassment?
I believe I felt that humiliation because in this day and age there is still that lingering stigma surrounding the word mentally ill, it brings about images of people drooling all over themselves in a stupor doing ungodly horrific things. The news outlets will have you believe that every person who commits a crime has a mental illness. Maybe some of them do have an untreated mental illness, but there are people like me who receives the correct medication and treatment and lives a very “normal” and successful life.
If you saw me on the street you would not pinpoint me as a “crazy” person (by the way I HATE that word, grates on my very last nerve). I dress in regular clothes, have pretty hair, a nice smile, and kind eyes. There is nothing about my outward appearance that screams “she’s a maniac!”
You know why, because I’m not, and neither are you if you struggle with a brain disease such as schizoaffective, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression — or the other myriad of brain conditions people can become affected with.
You are a human, a child of God, with a medical condition that requires medication, therapy, understanding, and love. You and I have nothing to be ashamed about, nothing to be embarrassed about, and no need to feel humiliation. If someone is judging you based on your illness that is their issue and their problem.
Go on loving yourself and holding your head high, you are an amazing miracle created just as you should have been in the image of our Father/Mother in heaven.
YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!
©copyright Adrienne K.
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